The news that Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher had died in a murder-suicide hit Ravens defensive lineman Arthur Jones particularly hard.
Belcher was a childhood friend and former wrestling teammate of Jones, who grew up in upstate New York.
"We wrestled every year on the same New York state team together since middle school through high school," Jones wrote. "Him and Jon (my brother) used to have the best battles, beating the hell out of each other, year in year out. We would all share stories how we all would make it one day. And dream about our first nice car and house we would all own one day, things we would buy our family. He was a SUPER hard worker that never back down from the challenge. One of strongest kids I have ever seen in high school. One time I remember him in a freestyle wrestling tournament where he launched his opponent into the air and scoring five points, which is the highest you can score on a throw. The kid quit and didn't wanna wrestle anymore. Lol. He always believed in himself.
"This past game when we met on the field after the game we reminisce about the old times we used to have traveling city to city, state to state, kicking butt and taking names. He talked about how good Jon is doing in the UFC and told me to tell him that Jon still can't beat him yet. We both laugh, hug and wish each other the best for the rest of the season. And walked away knowing I would see my friend again day down the road. I'm thankful for all the great times that we shared together and all the great memories he is giving me. He definitely will be missed by me and all the lives that he has impacted."
Jones also wrote on his Twitter account: "Please keep me in your prayers just lost childhood friend who played Kansas City Chiefs. Taking it pretty hard right now."
Torrey Smith, a Ravens wide receiver, wrote: "Prayers up for the Chiefs and the families that were affected. Life is wayyyy bigger than football...people forget that at times...respect their situation and pray for them."
Former Ravens wide receiver Derrick Mason weighed in on the situation on Twitter.
"Just bc u have wealth that doesn't exempt u from everyday problems and struggles!" Mason wrote. "Prayers goes out to the families of the 2 deceased."
Belcher, 25, had five solo tackles against the Ravens during a 9-6 Baltimore win on Oct. 7 in Kansas City.
A former undrafted free agent from the University of Maine, Belcher had climbed the depth chart from special-teams contributor to a full-time starting linebacker. He had 38 tackles in 10 starts this season, 87 tackles in 2011 when he started every game and 84 tackles in 2010 when he started all but one game.
Police in Kansas City say Belcher shot and killed his girlfriend before kiling himself near Arrowhead Stadium. According to Belcher's Facebook page, the couple had just had a child in September.
The police delayed naming Belcher until families could be informed of the violent episode.
Belcher allegedly took his own life, shooting himself in the head in front of coach Romeo Crennel and general manager Scott Pioli in the parking lot as they attempted to talk him out of further acts of violence.
The Chiefs are scheduled to host the Carolina Panthers Sunday. The Panthers were told today by the NFL to keep their travel plans to Kansas City.
"The entire Chiefs family is deeply saddened by today's events, and our collective hearts are heavy with sympathy, thoughts and prayers for the families and friends affected by this unthinkable tragedy," Chiefs owner Clark Hunt wrote in a statement. "We sincerely appreciate the expressions of sympathy and support we have received from so many in the Kansas City and NFL communities, and ask for continued prayers for the loved ones of those impacted. We will continue to fully cooperate with the authorities and work to ensure that the appropriate counseling resources are available to all members of the organization.”
The Chiefs later released the following statement announcing that the game will go on as scheduled: "After discussions between the league office, Head Coach Romeo Crennel and Chiefs team captains, the Chiefs advised the NFL that it will play tomorrow’s game vs. the Carolina Panthers at its originally scheduled time.”